Renowned French chef Marc Veyrat announced he had sued the France-based Michelin Guide after the restaurant guidebook authority demoted his La Maison des Bois in Manigod. Picture: AP

Washington - A high-stakes food drama playing out in the French Alps might all boil down to the cheddar.

Renowned French chef Marc Veyrat announced he had sued the France-based Michelin Guide after the restaurant guidebook authority demoted his La Maison des Bois in Manigod, France, from three stars to two earlier this year. 

Veyrat claimed Michelin's reviewer wrongly determined a cheese souffle as having cheddar in it; Veyrat said the colour was from saffron used in the dish and is now seeking documentation from Michelin to explain their decision.

"They dared to say that we put cheddar in our souffle of reblochon, beaufort, and tomme," Veyrat told French magazine Le Point in July. "They have insulted our region; my employees were furious."

Veyrat's restaurant was first awarded the coveted three-star Michelin ranking in 2018. Much of the food in the $330 to $430 (about R4 900 to R6 400) tasting menu comes from the restaurant's own botanic gardens and orchards.

The famed chef learned in January that his restaurant was losing a star just one year after it had achieved the three-star ranking - widely considered among the most prestigious distinctions in the fine dining business.

"I've been in a depression for six months. How dare you take hostage the health of cooks?" Veyrat lamented during his July interview with Le Point, during which he blamed the "amateur" nature of the Michelin reviewers.

"It scares me for the new generations to come. In fact, the only reason given was confusion over the Reblochon and Beaufort emulsion with cheddar," he said. He went on to call the Michelin reviewers "impostors" who deliberately stir up fights for "commercial reasons."

Among Veyrat's grievances is his belief that reviewers - in violation of Michelin's own stated best practices - did not visit the restaurant multiple times. He's demanding receipts from Michelin to prove their independent, anonymous reviewers in fact dined at Le Maison des Bois more than once.

The receipts are among the records Veyrat's lawsuit is hoping to compel from Michelin, his lawyer Emmanuel Ravanas told Agence France-Presse.

In a statement, Michelin spokesperson Jérôme Bourret said, "We understand the disappointment of Mr Veyrat, whose talent no one [contests], even if we regret his unreasonable persistence with his accusations. Our first duty is to tell consumers why we have changed our recommendation. We will carefully study his demands and respond calmly."

The Washington Post